Selling sexual services is not illegal, but the work is governed by many laws and restrictions.

The law book does not include the terms ‘sex work’, ‘sex worker’ or ‘sex against payment’. Words used in legislative texts to refer to sex work include the selling and purchase of sexual services, offering paid sexual services and prostitution. Even though not all acts related to selling and purchasing sexual services are criminal offences, prostitution as a phenomenon is extremely regulated and restricted in Finland.

The Criminal Code of Finland prohibits profiting from another person's prostitution (pandering, pimping) and the exploitation of a person for the purpose of prostitution (trafficking in human beings). In the section on pandering, the position of the person selling sexual services is to be the object of pandering, i.e., of criminal gain (not the victim, or the injured party). In the section on trafficking in human beings, a person selling sexual services is the victim of criminal abuse/exploitation, i.e., trafficking in human beings. Purchasing sexual services from a person under the age of 18 is prohibited. The same applies if there is reason to suspect that a person selling sexual services is the object of pandering or the victim of trafficking in human beings. The reports of the injured parties and witnesses often play a key role in the process.

The act of purchasing and selling sexual services in public places is covered by the Public Order Act. In addition, the Aliens Act has a separate section restricting entry by people travelling to Finland from outside the EU who are suspected of obtaining income by selling sexual services.

In addition to the Criminal Code, the Public Order Act and the Aliens Act, sex work is restricted by various common-law regulations.

The Criminal Code of Finland

Sex offences, chapter 20 of the Criminal Code

Section 8 – Abuse of a victim of sexual trade (purchase of sexual services from an object of pandering and a victim of human trafficking)

Section 8 a – Purchase of sexual services from a young person (purchase of sexual services from a person under the age of 18)

Sections 9 and 9 a – Pandering and aggravated pandering

Offences against personal liberty, chapter 25 of the Criminal Code

Sections 3 and 3 a – Trafficking in human beings and aggravated trafficking in human beings

Public Order Act

It is prohibited to purchase sexual services or offer sexual services against payment in a public place. (Section 7 – Other activities causing disturbance)

Aliens Act

Section 148 – Grounds for denial of admittance or stay, subsection 6: An alien may be denied admittance or stay if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that he or she may sell sexual services.